For a civil action in the superior courts of Washington, a Summons must be drafted, as well as signed and dated by the Plaintiff and then directed to the defendant. This summon provides notice to the defendant, and lets them know that they are required to defend the action. CR 4(b)(1) discussed the contents of the summons and CR(b)(2) provides the form of the Summons that is to be substantially followed. The summons and the complaint must be properly served upon the defendant. The summons and complaint must usually be personally served upon the defendant on an action. This could be through a process server, sheriff or other individual who is permitted under the rules and laws of the state of Washington to serve a document upon a defendant. Once served, you must provide proof of service, typically through an affidavit of service. This affidavit is filed with the court in order to ensure that service was properly made upon the defendant.
Your local court rules may have additional requirements necessary for the summons or service upon a defendant. You can contact your local court clerk or go online to see if the court that has jurisdiction over the case has the local court rules posted online.
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Civil Rule 4 is as follows:
(1) The summons must be signed and dated by the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney, and directed to the defendant requiring the defendant to defend the action and to serve a copy of the defendant’s appearance or defense on the person whose name is signed on the summons.
(2) Unless a statute or rule provides for a different time requirement, the summons shall require the defendant to serve a copy of the defendant’s defense within 20 days after the service of summons, exclusive of the day of service. If a statute or rule other than this rule provides for a different time to serve a defense, that time shall be stated in the summons.
(3) A notice of appearance, if made, shall be in writing, shall be signed by the defendant or the defendant’s attorney, and shall be served upon the person whose name is signed on the summons. In condemnation cases a notice of appearance only shall be served on the person whose name is signed on the petition.
(4) No summons is necessary for a counterclaim or cross claim for any person who previously has been made a party. Counterclaims and cross claims against an existing party may be served as provided in rule 5.
(1) Contents. The summons for personal service shall contain:
(i) the title of the cause, specifying the name of the court in which the action is brought, the name of the county designated by the plaintiff as the place of trial, and the names of the parties to the action, plaintiff and defendant;
(ii) a direction to the defendant summoning the defendant to serve a copy of the defendant’s defense within a time stated in the summons;
(iii) a notice that, in case of failure so to do, judgment will be rendered against the defendant by default. It shall be signed and dated by the plaintiff, or the plaintiff’s attorney, with the addition of the plaintiff’s post office address, at which the papers in the action may be served on the plaintiff by mail.
(2) Form. Except in condemnation cases, and except as provided in rule 4.1
TO THE DEFENDANT: A lawsuit has been started against you in the above entitled court by _______________, plaintiff. Plaintiff’s claim is stated in the written complaint, a copy of which is served upon you with this summons.
In order to defend against this lawsuit, you must respond to the complaint by stating your defense in writing, and by serving a copy upon the person signing this summons within 20 days after the service of this summons, excluding the day of service, or a default judgment may be entered against you without notice. A default judgment is one where plaintiff is entitled to what he asks for because you have not responded. If you serve a notice of appearance on the undersigned person, you are entitled to notice before a default judgment may be entered.
You may demand that the plaintiff file this lawsuit with the court. If you do so, the demand must be in writing and must be served upon the person signing this summons. Within 14 days after you serve the demand, the plaintiff must file this lawsuit with the court, or the service on you of this summons and complaint will be void.
If you wish to seek the advice of an attorney in this matter, you should do so promptly so that your written response, if any, may be served on time.
This summons is issued pursuant to rule 4 of the Superior Court Civil Rules of the State of Washington.
(c) By Whom Served. Service of summons and process, except when service is by publication, shall be by the sheriff of the county wherein the service is made, or by the sheriff’s deputy, or by any person over 18 years of age who is competent to be a witness in the action, other than a party. Subpoenas may be served as provided in rule 45.
(1) Of Summons and Complaint. The summons and complaint shall be served together.
(2) Personal in State. Personal service of summons and other process shall be as provided in RCW 4.28.080-.090, 23B.05.040, 23B.15.100, 46.64.040, and 48.05.200 and .210, and other statutes which provide for personal service.
(3) By Publication. Service of summons and other process by publication shall be as provided in RCW 4.28.100 and .110, 13.34.080, and 26.33.310, and other statutes which provide for service by publication.
(4) Alternative to Service by Publication. In circumstances justifying service by publication, if the serving party files an affidavit stating facts from which the court determines that service by mail is just as likely to give actual notice as service by publication, the court may order that service be made by any person over 18 years of age, who is competent to be a witness, other than a party, by mailing copies of the summons and other process to the party to be served at the party’s last known address or any other address determined by the court to be appropriate. Two copies shall be mailed, postage prepaid, one by ordinary first class mail and the other by a form of mail requiring a signed receipt showing when and to whom it was delivered. The envelopes must bear the return address of the sender. The summons shall contain the date it was deposited in the mail and shall require the defendant to appear and answer the complaint within 90 days from the date of mailing. Service under this subsection has the same jurisdictional effect as service by publication.
(5) Appearance. A voluntary appearance of a defendant does not preclude the defendant’s right to challenge lack of jurisdiction over the defendant’s person, insufficiency of process, or insufficiency of service of process pursuant to rule 12(b).
(e) Other Service.
(1) Generally. Whenever a statute or an order of court thereunder provides for service of a summons, or of a notice, or of an order in lieu of summons upon a party not an inhabitant of or not found within the state, service may be made under the circumstances and in the manner prescribed by the statute or order, or if there is no provision prescribing the manner of service, in a manner prescribed by this rule.
(2) Personal Service Out of State–Generally. Although rule 4 does not generally apply to personal service out of state, the prescribed form of summons may, with the modifications required by statute, be used for that purpose.
See RCW 4.28.180.
(3) Personal Service Out of State–Acts Submitting Person to Jurisdiction of Courts.
(Reserved. See RCW 4.28.185.)
(4) Nonresident Motorists. (Reserved. See RCW 46.64.040.)
(f) Territorial Limits of Effective Service. All process other than a subpoena may be served anywhere within the territorial limits of the state, and when a statute or these rules so provide beyond the territorial limits of the state. A subpoena may be served within the territorial limits as provided in rule 45 and RCW 5.56.010.
(g) Return of Service. Proof of service shall be as follows:
(1) If served by the sheriff or the sheriff’s deputy, the return of the sheriff or the sheriff’s deputy endorsed upon or attached to the summons;
(2) If served by any other person, the person’s affidavit of service endorsed upon or attached to the summons; or
(3) If served by publication, the affidavit of the publisher, supervisor, principal clerk, or business manager of the newspaper showing the same, together with a printed copy of the summons as published; or
(4) If served as provided in subsection (d)(4), the affidavit of the serving party stating that copies of the summons and other process were sent by mail in accordance with the rule and directions by the court, and stating to whom, and when, the envelopes were mailed.
(5) The written acceptance or admission of the defendant, the defendant’s agent or attorney;
(6) In case of personal service out of the state, the affidavit of the person making the service, sworn to before a notary public, with a seal attached, or before a clerk of a court of record.
(7) In case of service otherwise than by publication, the return, acceptance, admission, or affidavit must state the time, place, and manner of service. Failure to make proof of service does not affect the validity of the service.
(h) Amendment of Process. At any time in its discretion and upon such terms as it deems just, the court may allow any process or proof of service thereof to be amended, unless it clearly appears that material prejudice would result to the substantial rights of the party against whom the process issued.
(i) Alternative Provisions for Service in a Foreign Country.
(1) Manner. When a statute or rule authorizes service upon a party not an inhabitant of or found within the state, and service is to be effected upon the party in a foreign country, it is also sufficient if service of the summons and complaint is made:
(A) in the manner prescribed by the law of the foreign country for service in that country in an action in any of its courts of general jurisdiction; or
(B) as directed by the foreign authority in response to a letter rogatory or a letter of request; or
(C) upon an individual, by delivery to the party personally, and upon a corporation or partnership or association, by delivery to an officer, a managing or general agent; or
(D) by any form of mail, requiring a signed receipt, to be addressed and mailed to the party to be served; or
(E) pursuant to the means and terms of any applicable treaty or convention; or
(F) by diplomatic or consular officers when authorized by the United States Department of State; or
(G) as directed by order of the court. Service under (C) or (G) above may be made by any person who is not a party and is not less than 21 years of age or who is designated by order of the court or by the foreign court. The method for service of process in a foreign country must comply with applicable treaties, if any, and must be reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to give actual notice.
(2) Return. Proof of service may be made as prescribed by section (g) of this rule, or by the law of the foreign country, or by a method provided in any applicable treaty or convention, or by order of the court. When service is made pursuant to subsection (1)(D) of this section, proof of service shall include a receipt signed by the addressee or other evidence of delivery to the addressee satisfactory to the court.
(j) Other Process. These rules do not exclude the use of other forms of process authorized by law.
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